|Cooking teams set up along Main Street in Wise.|
The annual cookoff in Wise is Chillin’ and Grillin’ in the Glades, an appropriate name, particularly the chillin’ part. Begun in 2013 as an amateur event, the contest has grown each year, now is a three-day BBQ and music festival, and is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Teams compete for the title of Virginia State Champion, and 29 teams competed this year also for prize money totaling $7,500, although a few more teams had registered but were not able to participate.
|Big Glades Community Square is the venue for the festival's musical performances.|
All judging activities took place in The Inn at Wise, a stately three-story hotel built in 1910 that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Downtown Wise is essentially the same now as it was 100 years ago except a few buildings have been removed. For a century, the Inn served as the cultural hub of the region. It was also the birthplace of Clinch Valley College, which is now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise that serves 2,000 students.
|The Inn at Wise is contest central for the cookoff.|
In addition to being the scene of a barbecue cookoff in July, Wise draws tourists regularly to its area. The town is a destination on The Crooked Road, which is Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail and connects communities and venues in 19 counties of Southwest Virginia where traditional mountain music is celebrated.
|The team Redneck Scientific, across the street from the historic courthouse, won the pork ribs category as well as reserve champion honors.|
The hot, smoking cookers in Wise for the barbecue cookoff don’t interfere with the cool, comfortable atmosphere of the mountain town. Even as the event continues to grow, Chillin’ and Grillin’ will continue to merit both parts of its name – the perfect place to chill and grill in July.
|The original desk and mahogany mail slots maintain the historic feel at The Inn at Wise.|